Non-random software deals crooked games at an online casino</h1>
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Non-Random Software at an Online Casino

 
 
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Getting Rolled by Lucknroll:
Non-Random Software at Lucknroll Online Casino

By Radar O’Reilly
(From Blackjack Forum XXIV #1, Winter 2005)
ã Blackjack Forum Online 2005

I would like to alert online casino gamblers to non-random software at LuckNRoll online casino. Gamblers should also beware of Slots Alley and Casino On Liner, which are owned by the same people (Popular Casino Group) and use the same Casinova software. The Trump Group Internet casinos use the Casinova software as well.

Many gamblers accustomed to playing in Nevada and New Jersey casinos would consider this software crooked (I know I would.) First, let’s establish what I would consider crooked software.

Definition of Crooked Video or Online Casino Software

In Nevada and most other locations in the U.S. where casino gambling is legal, the software used in any video poker or video blackjack game has to be approved by the state’s Gaming Control Board or other government entities. In most states (but not all), the law requires that for video games that represent card games, the cards must be dealt randomly from a full 52-card deck or decks.

In these games, the house edge on a machine can be accurately determined by a player simply by looking at the machine’s payout schedule and rules. If the payout schedule and rules would give the house a ½% edge dealing fairly from a full 52-card deck or decks, you know that you will be giving up ½% on every bet you place in this game.

By crooked, I mean any software in which a game is either not being dealt from a full 52-card deck, or in which the cards are not being dealt randomly. Instead, the games are rigged to pay out at fixed percentages just like slot machines.

The fear of this type of crooked software is what keeps many gamblers from playing at online casinos. If you are playing blackjack at a land-based casino, and you keep getting stiffs and busting, it is annoying but tolerable because you know you won’t keep getting stiffs and busting forever. Sooner or later you will get your fair share of good cards.

But if you are in an unknown online casino and you keep busting your stiffs—now there is a really helpless feeling. In a casino where the software is rigged to give the house a higher edge, the cards may never even out. You may keep busting your stiffs and losing your double downs, or never getting royals or 4-of-a-kinds or flushes or even pairs of jacks or better, because the software is designed specifically to deal you cards that will make you lose.

Crooked software is perfectly legal in some states and foreign countries. In the December 1992 and Fall 1998 issues of Blackjack Forum, professional players reported on rigged blackjack and video poker in South Carolina and other places. (See "Non-Random Video Blackjack in South Carolina" and other articles linked to from that page.)

In South Carolina, the players contacted various manufacturers of crooked machines, and learned that the house edge there could be set at up to the state regulatory limit of 20%! The edge on one game came from changing the dealer’s hole card depending on the cards the player had received. If the player had already busted, for example, the dealer would receive a small card to go with his ten up. If the player had a 19 against a dealer Ten, the dealer would receive a Ten in the hole.

Another manufacturer of machines in use in South Carolina rigged the games by stacking the deck against players—that is, by shuffling the cards so that a large proportion of the high cards were simply placed behind the cut card. The South Carolina Department of Revenue had approved this software as complying with state regulations.

These types of software are legal to use in online casinos as well, unless the country where the casino is physically located or licensed prohibits the use of such software. Nevertheless, while this software may be legal, just as it may be legal to set a slot machine to win whatever percentage the casino wants, most players would not consider these games fair.

Reputable online casinos, such as the ones listed in Blackjack Forum Online’s Internet Casino Reviews and Best Online Casinos, go to great lengths to avoid such software and prove that they only deal games that are fair. But some online casinos don’t share this concern, and that is where LuckNRoll and Popular Casino Group enter the picture.

Our Test of the Software at Lucknroll Online Casino

In August 2004, a professor at a local university put a player in touch with me who had run into some suspicious occurrences at LuckNRoll. This player—let’s call him Fred—was a recreational gambler temporarily laid up at home after surgery, who had stumbled across a link to LuckNRoll at a site called casinoplayersadvocate.com.

Which leads us to lesson #1: Just because a web site calls itself a players’ advocate, doesn’t mean it really is one.

What attracted Fred’s eye was that LuckNRoll was offering a fantastic bonus: 400% up to $1000, plus 75% extra for depositing by that Sunday. Fred is no mathematician, but his eyes almost popped out of his head. What the casino was offering was a cashable bonus of $1187.50 on a $250 deposit!

Now, the wagering requirement for the bonus was 35x the deposit and bonus, but still, all that meant was that Fred had to put in $50,312.50 in action on the casino’s full-pay Jacks or Better video poker in order to cash out whatever was left. As an experienced video poker player, he figured his expected profit on the deal, after his expected loss due to the house edge, was a little over $900.

Fred even took the precaution of looking around on the gambling web sites to see if anyone had posted anything negative about LuckNRoll. But there was virtually no info about the place. It appeared that it was simply too new.

Fred deposited his $250, received his $1187.50 bonus, and settled in happily, at $1.25 a hand, to play lots and lots of video poker. And almost immediately, within just a few hands, he hit a royal flush. After that, he was so happy with LucknRoll casino that he even made some calls to recommend the casino to friends.

Unfortunately, as soon as Fred resumed play, some funny things started happening.

Lucknroll Software: Non-Payment on Winning Hands

First, he began to notice that he did not seem to be receiving the payout on some hands he had won. You know how it is—you’re playing the game, you’re not watching every dollar. But then Fred started watching his balance very carefully. When he hit a flush, he noticed that his balance did not go up to reflect the payout.

Fred stopped playing, sent an email to the casino with a screen shot of the flush, and asked that his account be credited for the win. The casino responded promptly with the credit he’d requested, explaining that the "glitch" had occurred during some site maintenance, and Fred was reassured. But when he resumed play, he had to stop almost immediately because of another payout problem, only this time instead of merely not crediting the payout, the amount of the payout was deducted from his account. Again, he contacted the casino.

The casino personnel responded promptly with an explanation that the problem had occurred due to heavy traffic at the site. They said that the software had thought he’d elected to attempt to double his payout, and that the double had lost. But the casino’s explanation made no sense, because the software had not only removed the win, it had also deducted that amount from Fred’s account balance. The casino further suggested that Fred schedule future play at the casino at off-peak times.

Fred didn’t buy the explanation. But the casino had also credited his account the proper amount, so Fred resumed play—at an off-peak hour. But this time his results were so strange, so completely inexplicable in terms of years of experience at video poker, that he stopped play and got in touch with the university professor I mentioned, who then put him in touch with me. I found his results so interesting that I went over to his house immediately and sat next to him as he played, recording hand by hand every card dealt and every result at LuckNRoll’s Jacks or Better video poker.

Test Results: Mathematically Impossible on a Fair Game

The results we recorded on the Jacks or Better video poker at LuckNRoll online casino were mathematically impossible on a fair game.

On September 1, in the last 3000 hands Fred played, he received a pair of jacks or better only 89 times. In a fair game, a player would expect to receive jacks or better approximately 642 times in this many hands.

He received two pairs only 14 times. A player would expect to receive two pairs 385 times in that many hands.

He received three of a kind only 7 times. A player would expect to receive three of a kind 222 times in that many hands.

Fred received four straights (a player would expect to receive 34), three flushes (a player would expect to receive 32), and zero full houses (a player would expect to receive 35) or four of a kinds (a player would expect to receive 6) in those 3000 hands.

Needless to say, such abnormal results on very common hands are very costly and go far beyond normal fluctuation. On the number of pairs of jacks or better alone, Fred’s result was off by over 24 standard deviations! Fred lost his entire deposit, bonus, and all the win on his royal—over $2000 in all—in 3000 hands on a game where he was betting only $1.25 a hand!

We Contact Lucknroll Online Casino About Their Software

I bought Fred a beer, and helped him compose an email to send to the casino. He politely explained that his results on their video poker were mathematically impossible on a fair game, and that he wanted his $250 deposit back.

The company responded the next day:

After investigating the recurrence of problems with your account, we're happy to say our software engineers discovered the root of the problem. Unfortunately, during the time of our server downtime, your account was reconnected in test mode.

We apologize for the confusion this has caused, we've never had an incident of this nature before, and the bug which caused this problem has been fixed. We have reset your account to your original starting balance, with an additional $50 as compensation for your inconvenience. We thank you for your patience and assure you there should be no further anomalies.

Fred replied that he had lost more than $2000 (over $600 more than his original starting balance) while LuckNRoll’s software was "in test mode," and that since he had been through repeated malfunctions at their casino, he no longer trusted their software and simply wanted his deposit back. LuckNRoll refused to refund his deposit, stating that their Terms and Conditions required a player to meet the full wagering requirement before any withdrawal could be made.

They said:

Unfortunately no software is bug free however we hope we provided you the best service possible and got the problem fixed right away. Luck N' Roll has one of the best track records out there in client relations and that's because we're fair, offer great deals and give reliable service, however we are unable to make refunds.

So, it looks like Fred is out $250.

Lucknroll: A Crooked Online Casino

LuckNRoll’s explanations of its technical problems made no sense. The results on their game were mathematically impossible on a fair game. And in my opinion their refusal to refund Fred’s initial deposit is unethical.

Meanwhile, the Popular Casino and Trump Casino groups continue to send Fred weekly offers of 350% bonuses for making new deposits at their casinos.

I hope you will help get the word out. ♠

For more information on how to avoid getting ripped off by dishonest online casinos, see How to Beat Internet Casinos and Poker Rooms. For information on detecting cheating at live casino games (and yes, we have found it in both handheld and shoe-dealt games, even on the Las Vegas Strip), see The Big Book of Blackjack and How to Detect Casino Cheating at Blackjack.

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Non-random software, dealing crooked games rigged to return a higher house edge, are in use at a number of online casinos. Read this Blackjack Forum report to learn which online casinos are using dishonest software, and how to detect crooked (non-random) online games. Also, be aware that there are no laws restricting the use of non-random software in online casinos.